Modulation of Immune Functions by Foods

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Jul 2018

Evidence is rapidly accumulating as to the beneficial effects of foods. However, it is not always clear whether the information is based on data evaluated impartially in a scientific fashion. Human research into whether foods modulate immune functions in either intervention studies or randomized controlled trials can be classified into three categories according to the physical state of subjects enrolled for investigation: (i) studies examining the effect of foods in healthy individuals; (ii) studies analyzing the effect of foods on patients with hypersensitivity; and (iii) studies checking the effect of foods on immunocompromized subjects, including patients who had undergone surgical resection of cancer and newborns. The systematization of reported studies has made it reasonable to conclude that foods are able to modulate immune functions manifesting as either innate immunity (phagocytic activity, NK cell activity) or acquired immunity (T cell response, antibody production). Moreover, improvement of immune functions by foods can normalize the physical state of allergic patients or cancer patients, and may reduce the risk of diseases in healthy individuals. Therefore, it is valuable to assess the immune-modulating abilities of foods by measuring at least one parameter of either innate or acquired immunity.

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Modulation of Immune Functions by Foods

Modulation of Immune Functions by Foods Shuichi Kaminogawa1 and Masanobu Nanno2 1Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Bioresource Sciences, Nihon University, Japan 2Yakult Central Institute for Microbiological Research, Japan Received 6 May 2004; Accepted 31 August 2004 Copyright © 2004 Shuichi Kaminogawa and Shuichi Kaminogawa. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Abstract Evidence is rapidly accumulating as to the beneficial effects of foods. However, it is not always clear whether the information is based on data evaluated impartially in a scientific fashion. Human research into whether foods modulate immune functions in either intervention studies or randomized controlled trials can be classified into three categories according to the physical state of subjects enrolled for investigation: (i) studies examining the effect of foods in healthy individuals; (ii) studies analyzing the effect of foods on patients with hypersensitivity; and (iii) studies checking the effect of foods on immunocompromized subjects, including patients who had undergone surgical resection of cancer and newborns. The systematization of reported studies has made it reasonable to conclude that foods are able to modulate immune functions manifesting as either innate immunity (phagocytic activity, NK cell activity) or acquired immunity (T cell response, antibody production). Moreover, improvement of immune functions by foods can normalize the physical state of allergic patients or cancer patients, and may reduce the risk of diseases in healthy individuals. Therefore, it is valuable to assess the immune-modulating abilities of foods by measuring at least one parameter of either innate or acquired immunity.


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Shuichi Kaminogawa, Masanobu Nanno. Modulation of Immune Functions by Foods, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, DOI: 10.1093/ecam/neh042